Anniversary – Dad

ImageYesterday was the one month anniversary of my Dad’s passing away.

I felt off most of the day, but didn’t realize why until later.   That’s the way it seems to be going for me, I’m fine and then something out of the blue reminds me of him.  There are times that I catch myself wondering when he is coming to visit again, or think of a golf course that we need to play…  Of course, those are the times that hit the hardest.

Dad was a big man physically and he had a big heart.  In fact, he lead with his heart most of the time.

He lived passionately and was the biggest optimist I will ever meet.  People have told me that I do a good job of looking on the bright side of things.  I used to say “you should meet my Dad.” Now I’ll have to remember to say “you should have met my Dad.”

We had Dad’s service here in Portland the Saturday before Easter, a stunningly sunny, warm spring day.  I had committed to say a few things there, hoping I could keep it all together and form intelligent sentences.  I knew what I wanted to say, but didn’t really put fingers to keyboard until the night before.  Once I started writing, the words just flowed out.

I have put the text of what I said below, not to show off any oratory skill I do not possess, but to remind myself of the topics I covered.

  • Life is short, enjoy the time we have.
  • Don’t live in the past, or in the future; focus on today.
  • Love your family and close friends and make time for them.
  • Love, live, forgive, forget, move on.

Here is what I said that day:

Today is a day to celebrate a life, to remember the good times we had with Walt, and mourn his not being here with us.  It’s a selfish day really, designed to help us – to help us all start to heal the hole in our hearts left by his passing.

One Day at a Time –

We heard that phrase a lot during the last month or so of Dads life.  It seemed to be a favorite of the hospital staff whenever we asked for more information; when we asked about an outcome;  when we asked about expectations….  which really wasn’t very helpful at all.  Being in that situation and hearing that phrase so often really got me thinking about it really means.

One Day at a Time

And this is what I have come up with – One Day at a Time means to live life like there is no tomorrow – To live like yesterday’s woes never happened, to work your butt off to make TODAY the best day of your life – and if you get a tomorrow, then use that tomorrow to top what you did today.

Today is a day to tell stories, to cry, to hug, and to heal – One Day at a time.

I learned a lot from my Dad, I was fortunate to have worked with him in two different companies.  He had an ability to listen to what a customer was saying they wanted – and then ignore what they said and instead, give them what they really needed – which often was a completely different thing …

Listening – really listening – One day at a time.

Another lesson was that passion in pursuit of a dream can be a powerful, driving force.  And forgiveness is even more important.

I remember a time where we were in a argument about some detail of the business, something he was passionate about having his way and he was getting really angry with how the argument was going and he stormed out of the office – taking both hands and shoving a four foot high pile of magazine’s off the table and all over the floor on his way out.

I was left alone in the office, scared for my life for when he came back!

Instead of being angry when he got back, he gave me one of his huge, “Uncle Walt” hugs and we were all good again…

Forgiving and forgetting – One day at a time.

Another thing I learned from Dad, and many of you in this room learned too, was that he always looked on the bright side – to say the least – he was an optimist.  – he assumed the best possible outcome in every situation, no matter what.   Sometimes his optimism didn’t quite workout the way he assumed it would – and sometimes, that was to the detriment of us on the other side of his optimism !!

Reminds me of the lyrics by John Lennon =

“you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…”

Dreaming and Believing – Ond Day at a Time…

As we continue to work through our healing in the weeks and months to come, we need to remember the feeling of connection and togetherness that we are creating here in our mourning – our depending on each other, our sharing (keep the stories flowing!) and our increased closeness.

the next part of the lyrics penned by John Lennon are:

“I hope some day you’ll join us – And the world will be as one”

Because it strikes me that this togetherness, this closeness, this enjoying the time that we have and the good memories we make are what really matter.

Making the most of the time we have – One Day at a Time.

I think that sums it all up for me – what I’ve learned from my Dad, what I chose to remember  – all of the best of him, and how I want to live the rest of my life moving forward.

One Day at a Time, focus on the important things in life.

Dad sent this to several of us in email a couple of years back – I think it’s a great way to be reminded that there is ALWAYS time for the truly important things in life, if we make them the priority:


When things in your life seem, almost too much to handle, When 24 hours in a day is not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy classand had some items in front of him.  When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students, if the jar was full.   They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar..   He shook the jar lightly.  The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.

Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand.  The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor, as the laughter subsided,  ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. 

The golf balls are the important things – family, children, health, friends, and favorite passions.  Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, house, and car.

The sand is everything else –The small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’  He continued, ‘there is no room for  the pebbles or the golf balls.    The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, You will never have room for the things that are important to you.


Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

  • Play with your children.
  • Take time to get medical checkups..
  • Take your partner out to dinner.

There will always be time for the “sand” in life, take care of the golf balls first —  The things that really matter.  Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled.  ‘I’m glad you asked’.  It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.’

Walt Gorski: My Dad passed away at 66 years of age.  I will miss him for rest of my life, but he continues to live on in my heart and the lessons he leaves behind.

GTD – does it get things done?

I have noticed a sort of trend lately – bashing GTD for not Getting Things Done.  Examples are here, here, here, here, and here.

One common theme seems to be that running the GTD system takes too much time, so much in fact, that you don’t actually GET things done.  After all the time running the GTD system, there is no time left for deep thinking, strategic planning, or concentrated project work.

I think this line of thought is missing the while point of GTD.

GTD is built explicitly to clear your mind and your sub-conscious of the nagging, slowing, fogging thoughts that keep us from doing Deep work.  The design of GTD is such that you can make it as complicated or as simple as you need it to be.  You take from the system only the pieces you need, using them to clear your mind of self doubts, reminders, and worry.

I have read the book a couple of times and make use of as much or as little of the theories and systems as I need to simplify my life and clear my mind.  Some weeks or months I get heavy into the ‘system’, and sometimes I hardly use any.

Using more of the system than you need goes against one of the basic founding tenants of the system “Mind Like Water.”  That means in all things, act or react only as much as needed, no more and no less.  Similarly, as Einstein said, “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

GTD  can’t be blamed for an inability to focus on the deep work – GTD is only a system.  It is up to each of us to make use of the system, not to allow the system to use us.

The wisdom of Paul from Starbucks

Sometimes things happen quickly in life.  Things that you look back on and wish you could dwell in those moments a bit longer.  Today I had one of those moments…

Paul sat next to me today at Starbucks.  89 years young and looking great.  He was dapper with slacks, penny-loafers, and a button up shirt.  Gold Rolex, gold rings and a chain around his neck.  Not gaudy, just old-school dressed up.

He asked me what I was doing (I was checking email on my phone…) and we were off – having a great conversation.

His Greek accent was sometimes tough to understand, but I really wanted to be present with him and honor the conversation.  We talked about what I did, what he had done and a bit about his story.  He came from Greece when he was in his early 20’s with about $40 in his pocket.  Said he became a millionaire and then took a huge risk with real estate and became a multi-multi-multi… millionaire.

It was a great conversation and I thought that is what I was going to take with me.  Paul wasn’t done with me yet…

I told him I had to get going, and he told me that he wanted to tell me his 5 keys to life if I had another minute.  I’m not that much of a dummy, so of course I sat back down.

Here is the list from Paul, age 89:

1- Love yourself – no matter what happens, think to yourself “I’m the BEST!”

2 – Be happy and have fun, but don’t do anything in excess.  Including drinking, work, sex.  (not sure about that last one, but this Paul’s list)

3 – Work hard and realize that if you are the best, then hard work will pay off.

4 – Put some money aside when times are good.  Because times are not always good.  ‘Nuff Said.

5 – Treat your wife as if she was a part of your own body.  Respect her, love her, tell her that you need her.  A man’s sex drive goes down with old age, but the need for your companion lives on…

Paul – thanks for sharing and caring.


Very thought provoking post by Leo over on ZenHabits – He talks about the urge for self-improvement and how that can quickly run our lives.  He questions the need to improve and wonders if it is actually a statement of our inadequacy.

I won’t go into the article too much here, except to say that I am guilty of having the urge, of seeking improvement.  I think that is why this post of his struck a chord with me.

My favorite quote from the article:

Realize that you are already perfect. You are there. You can breathe a sigh of relief.

He suggests that we find contentment in where we are now.  Find yourself adequate, perfect as you are.  Quit worrying and be happy.

I like his statement and I like the tone of the post.   I appreciate his calling out a whole industry that is built around feeding peoples need to improve, in finding the next ‘thing’ that will make be better.

However, he presents it as a one or the other argument.  I wonder if he is drawing too thick of a line between the two – Either/Or vs Both.

I think a balance between the two places – improvement and contentment is the right place for me.  I can be happy and content with where I am now in all facets of my life.  And at the same time, I can try to improve in areas that that can be improved in.  I believe that you can be happy with where you are now in something and yet at the same time, strive to change that area.  The strive to change doesn’t equal unhappiness…

In fact, learning new things, trying new things, striving to make changes and see if they resonate with me is one thing that makes me happy.  Content even.  It’s not a contest, it’s a necessary part of an exciting life.

What about you?  Are you on the self-improvement side, the contentment side, or ????